I recently asked: Is desktop software is dead?
Increasingly, I am of the opinion that desktop software is well on its way to extinction.
In its place, Synced-Data Applications (SDAs) have emerged.
One of the best examples I’ve recently run across is Evernote. Native Evernote applications exist for desktops (as well as handhelds) and for the cloud (e.g., via a Web browser). Your data is replicated between the cloud (in this example, Evernote’s Webstores) and your desktop(s)/handheld(s). Synced-Data Applications.
And with Google Gears, Google Docs has also entered the SDA software paradigm.
With SDAs, it’s not just about the cloud, and it’s not just about the desktop/handheld. It’s all about the convergence that this software paradigm brings.
A revised version of the figure I shared in the previous post on this thread is included below.
Once again, it emphasizes that interest is focused on the convergence between the isolated realm of the desktop/handheld on the one hand, and the cloud (I previously referred to this as the network) on the other.
It’s much, much less about commercial versus Open Source software. And yes, I remain unaware of SDA examples that live purely in the Open Source realm …
In its 3rd year, Launch: Silicon Valley is now firmly established as the premier product launch platform for cash strapped startups. The event, co-presented by SVASE, Garage Technology Ventures and Microsoft, provides the next generation of emerging technology companies with the opportunity to pitch their products to, and network with, an audience of Silicon Valley’s top VCs, Angels, corporate business development executives, prospective customers and partners, bloggers and media.
Launch: Silicon Valley 2008 is designed to uncover and showcase products and services from the most exciting of the newest startups in information technology, mobility, security, digital media, next generation internet, life sciences and clean energy.
Seemingly not to be out-done by all the buzz surrounding Firefox 3, Apple today (March 18, 2008) released version 3.1 of its Safari Web browser.
Apparently, we’ll love Safari because:
- The UI – Of course. However, this is another area where Firefox 3 has made significant headway. Even on a Mac, Firefox 3’s UI is also elegant and clean. (For an amusing take on the Apple UI paradigm, have a look at this Eric Burke cartoon. I’m not sure how Burke would represent the Mozilla UI … However, one thing’s for sure, it’s become a lot more elegant and cleaner over the years.)
- Find – The Firefox 3 implementation looks remarkably like Safari’s.
- Resizable text areas – Excellent. Not sure if Firefox 3 has this.
Safari 3.1 also presents a twofold irony with respect to Web standards:
- You need to do a little digging (page 8 of the Safari Product Overview) to determine what is meant by Web standards support. And once you do, you’ll learn that it relates to CSS, HTML 5 and SVG. Of these, “HTML 5 offline storage support” has the potential to be most interesting, as Google is analogously demonstrating with Google Gears. So, it’s ironic you need to dig for something that has such value.
- In it’s support of HTML 5, we have a commercial entity (Apple) leading the way in terms of implementing standards. This is refreshing in general, and in particular in Apple’s case, as traditional expectations would have the Open Source implementations (e.g., Firefox) ahead in this regard. To quote Alanis Morissette: “Isn’t it ironic… don’t you think?”
When you factor in support for Windows, and apparently frequent releases, it’s no wonder that Safari is gaining momentum at the expense of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox.
And not that I’ve been following developments with IE, but one has to wonder, if we are to re-visit the IE vs. Netscape browser wars of yesteryear, might the combatants this time be Apple Safari 3.x and Mozilla Firefox 3.x?
One can only hope!
The iPhone’s out!In no specific order, here are ten tips for competitors:
- Reaffirm your position. In the best-case scenario, this requires you to provide evidence or facts that your business is great. RIM provided a text-book example by boasting better-than-anticipated profits, a stock split and a new product offering the day before the iPhone was released. Nice work. Excellent timing.
- Ride the marketing tsunami. You have the market’s ear, so it’s an excellent opportunity to be heard. Take advantage of it. Again, RIM’s day-before triple play provides an excellent illustration.
- Flaunt the imperfection. Apple likes to make a big splash. And although the iPhone will offer a lot on day one, it doesn’t have it all. This presents an excellent opportunity to showcase the iPhone gaps addressed by your offering. For example, Helio will tell you that the iPhone doesn’t provide a chat functionality whereas their Ocean does.
- Engage in coopetition. In some cases, it makes sense to juxtapose cooperation and competition. This results in coopetition, and examples of it abound. Although I wouldn’t expect Apple to be too receptive to a competitor’s advances at this time, it may still be possible to engage in a little gorilla coopetition. For example, iPhone competitors like RIM could offer feature/functionality enhancements to their desktop offering for Apple Mac OS X computers.
- Partner. Relative to Apple, RIM is small fry. (Forgive the hyperbole, I’m trying to make a point!) Through partnerships, however, RIM could reduce to topple the size imbalance. For example, a RIM-Google partnership could be interesting. With many of Google’s offerings already available natively for the BlackBerry, there’s an established starting point.
- Wire continuous improvement into your DNA. In other words, avoid the big splash. As captured by a recent item in Information Week, this is the Google way:
Google Apps, which includes Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Start Page, received several other improvements Monday. This is in keeping with Google’s strategy of incremental product improvements, said Chandra, who noted that Google Apps had seen some 30 new features and updates in the four months since it was introduced.
The Google way works, in part, because the Internet, Web, etc., have been wired into Google’s DNA from the outset. So, although the continuous improvement sentiment has wide applicability, adaptation is likely required to ensure effective execution. In some ways, Dell’s just-in-time approach to inventory offers an analogous potential for continuous improvement in the production of computer hardware.
- Leverage the marketing tsunami. Arguably, the iPhone introduction is taking Apple into new markets with a new product. Of course, Apple has to some extent limited their exposure by making the iPhone a convergence play – Phone + iPod + Internet. This means they have both product and market experience they can readily tap. iPhone competitors can also leverage the tsunami from established products and markets to new ones. Perhaps more importantly, the presence of the tsunami that Apple has established means that others can progress systematically from an established situation to a new one. For example, a competitor could progress from an established product and market to a new market with the same product. Alternatively, the trajectory could be from an established situation to a new product for an established market. Such lower risk entrays have been primed by the iPhone tsunami, and iPhone competitors can progress towards new products for new markets incrementally.
- Balance awareness with distraction. This one is tough! You need to be aware of the iPhone, and all that that embodies, while at the same time not be distracted from your focus. By staying close to your customers, while being sensitive to the broader market that the iPhone and other products will drive, you will have the best prospects for ensuring success. In terms of something a little more concrete … Listen. If customers complain the your desktop software needs improvement, or that it takes too many clicks to navigate with your Web browser, listen. Listen and then address these issues as opportunities, one by one.
- Leverage your community. In the case of Apple, the community is so polarized that it’s been described as religion in the past. Although I haven’t studied it in a lot of detail, the Apple community appears to be a consequence of the cool and innovative way that Apple allows you to “Think different”. Engage with your community. Even though there are so many ways to do this, I don’t see enough vendors doing this.
Agree? Disagree? More tips? Please chime in.
In a recent post, I blogged:
… Jott goes a lot farther than my low-tech solution:
- You call their toll-free number
- You leave a message – your reminder, to-do, idea, etc.
- Jott transcribes your message, and delivers the corresponding text to your phone and email
“Obscenely simple … incredibly clever” (Christopher Null, Yahoo! Tech). I couldn’t agree more!
Unfortunately, I cannot attest to how well this actually works.
I live in Canada, and the public beta only supports US-based cell phones
Fortunately, there’s great news for us Canucks as DICtabrain is developing a similar solution 🙂
Although I expect to have more to blog about soon, it’s worth noting that DICtabrain:
- Makes an explicit connection to blogging
- Is looking for alpha-trial participants
- Has their own blog
Some may be nonplussed by services like DICtabrain’s or Jott’s.
As DICtabrain’s James Woods blogs:
Some people will never understand the benefits of voice powered writing while others seem to be waiting for it with baited breath.
I think the reason for this disconnect is the creative process itself.
Some people need to internalize their creative process by working things through inside their heads.
Others need to externalize it. And its for the externalizers that frameworks like GTD and solutions like DICtabrain’s make complete and total sense. In DICtabrain’s words: “Good ideas are only valuable if they can be remember[ed] and then actioned.”
With Jott and DICtabrain appearing on the scene with similar solutions within the past 3-4 months, it’s clear that there’s something interesting happening.
Perhaps Jott and DICtabrain have glommed onto a disruptive innovation.
What are they disrupting?
How about the dictaphone + analog/digital voice recorders + voicemail + technology for action management methods.
That’s an impressive disruption, and one of the reasons why companies like DICtabrain and Jott are likely to draw attention from the likes of:
- Traditional dictaphone companies – ??
- Consumer electronics companies – Apple, Sony, etc.
- Telcos/Networking companies – Cisco, Nortel, Skype, etc.
- Software companies – Google, Microsoft, Nuance, etc.
- And others
With unified messaging a key deliverable of enterprise-class traditional PBX and VoIP solutions, injecting the DICtabrain or Jott solution into the mix could be quite interesting. For example when you have robust IP connectivity, you have the networked equivalent of Nuance’s Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Skype + (DICtabrain or Jott) … and potentially more!
To re-quote Christopher Null, Yahoo! Tech: “Obscenely simple … incredibly clever”.
Let me close (again) with a small dose of realism:
I haven’t been particularly impressed by speech-to-text conversion in the past. This will be the gating factor for me.